The Hazards of a National Geographic Photographer...

Reality Check

This page is dedicated to Wes Skiles who died doing the work he loved. Sadie Quarrier, senior photo editor, National Geographic Magazine says:   “I was lucky enough to work with Wes as his photo editor on (his) “Bahamas Blue Holes” story for NGM. He was deeply passionate about diving, exploring, photographing and protecting the waterways… Wes was big-hearted and humble yet extremely driven. He was doggedly determined to produce the best possible article on these caves he called home. He dared to dream big, and no budget or contract would stop him from going after a shot he felt we needed, even if it was on his own dime…”

There have been other deaths over the years and many serious injuries. The posts below are recent survey responses from 45 photographers about some of the hazards encountered while on assignment for the National Geographic Society. The numbers represent individual incidents.

It's a Glamorous Life

  • 7

    Car or Bus Crash

  • 12

    Falls

  • 3

    Imprisoned

  • 1

    Held at Knifepoint

  • 1

    Bit by Ticks (in my penis)

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing in Tree

  • 2

    Seat Belt Releases with Helicopter Tipped Over Volcano

  • 1

    Lost on Arctic Ice

  • 8

    Giardia

  • 16

    Various Parasites

  • 1

    Flesh Eating Parasites

  • 20

    Amoebic Dysentery

  • 1

    Lost at Sea

  • 3

    Extreme Toxins

  • 2

    Stoned by Religious Group

  • 1

    Dengue Fever

  • 1

    Hotel Surrounded by Rebels

  • 2

    Teargassed

  • 90

    Severe Diarrhea

  • 1

    Viper in Camera Bag

  • 1

    Broken Tail Bone

  • 4

    Tear Gassed

  • 2

    Broken Nose

  • 1

    Strongyloide Invasion

  • 2

    Temporary Blindness

  • 12

    Severe Insect Problems

  • 1

    Chased by Crocodile

  • 1

    Blinded by Wasps

  • 3

    Trips into Chernobyl Reactor

  • 4

    Broken Bones

  • 3

    Chased by Wild Elephant

  • 2

    Held at Gunpoint

  • 2

    Assault by Florida panther. 2 photographers, 2 assignments, same panther.

  • 5

    Plane or Helicopter Crash

  • 4

    Burns

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing on Sea Ice

  • 21

    Threatened / Detained / Abducted

  • 3

    Beaten

  • 9

    Groped

  • 1

    Spitting Cobra Attacks

  • 30

    Wound Infection

  • 1

    Penis Fish

  • 1

    Acid Dripping Caves

  • 5

    Robbed

  • 1

    Diagnosed PTSD

  • 29

    Frostbite (23 for one photographer)

  • 2

    Buried in Avalanche

  • 2

    Lost in Andes

  • 13

    Robbed

  • 7

    Dislocations

  • 10

    Rope Burn

  • 1

    Punched in Face

  • 9

    Hypothermia

  • 1

    Meningitis

  • 1

    Scaffolding Collapse

  • 1

    Streaming Blood While Hanging from Harness at 1500 feet

  • 1

    Loa-Loa Worm in Eye

  • 9

    Venomous Bites

  • 1

    Hunted with Bows and Arrows

  • 21

    Paraglider Crash

  • 6

    Broken Ribs

  • 1

    Attack by 9,000 pound Elephant Seal

  • 1

    Out of Air Diving Under Oil Rig

  • 19

    Severe Dehydration

  • 8

    Assorted Animal Attacks

  • 5

    Malaria

  • 2

    Groped

  • 1

    Stabbed

  • 1

    Out of Air Diving Under Sea Ice

  • 2

    Fall Into Crevasse

  • 1

    Paraglider Crash Landing in Ocean

  • 13

    Run Checkpoint

  • 1

    Land on Rock Ledge After 90 Foot Fall

  • 33

    Arrest or House Arrest

  • 6

    Random Assault